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 Post subject: Sigma - Now part of SLM
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:31 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:50 pm
Posts: 1569
Location: New Jersey
Many of you may recall the Sigma by CF Martin guitars from days gone by. Pretty good to really good Japanese and Korean made guitars at a fraction of the cost of their Martin brethren. For whatever reason, Martin did away with that brand some years back and it has now been resurrected by our own SLM! For clarity's sake I'll mention that there is also a German company who swiped the Sigma name, pretty much copied the headstock design, and for legal reasons imports into the states under the name Kindred.

The SLM versions are made in China but appear to have quite a few pretty nice features for the price.
http://www.sigmaguitars.us/

I have an sf18ce that will shortly be in my hands for evaluation and to be honest - I expect a lot out of it.

We can debate the merits of MIA, MIM, MIJ, MIC etc. til the cows come home but it seems a foregone conclusion to me that given decent quality materials and decent QC any manufacturer can produce a decent instrument. I will not tolerate super thick finishes, sloppy binding or glue joints. sharp fret ends, any buzz or rattle, poor nut filing etc. I will tolerate a mediocre setup. If this guitar meets or exceeds my criteria then I'm going to proclaim it a winner and a real bargain at probably about $400 with HSC.

If anyone is interested in these PM me and I can hook you up with a dealer who is an actual good guy.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:07 am 
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Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:50 pm
Posts: 1569
Location: New Jersey
I've had a chance to give this guitar a pretty thorough going over and it's all good. For any interested pickers out there I can wholeheartedly recommend Rick Tallman at http://www.tallmaninstruments.com/

I promised Rick some feedback and I'll include it here.

Hi Rick
Hope all is well with you. I promised you along and possibly excruciating review. I’m happy to say that’s not going to happen. Why? Well, I can’t find very much to carp about on this guitar. There’s really only one thing that detracts a little from an overall exceptional value – the tuners. Having given the guitar a pretty thorough break in I find that without fail the tuners will not stay in pitch overnight. I thought at first it might be the new strings – but no. It’s a bit odd, but overnight all strings detune about equally so that when playing it is pretty much in tune – just flat by less than a 1/2 step. I’ll be changing the tuners very soon to Gotoh SG301’s and if you have any input with SLM you may wish to suggest them – they’re very well regarded 18:1 at a cost effective price.

At first this guitar had a fair amount of unwanted harmonic overtones that are kind of hard to describe – almost an echo quality. This has settled down somewhat and I expect it will continue to diminish. I think part of it is the combination of body size and forward bracing. I’m happy to report that the nut is possibly the best cut factory nut I’ve ever come across. It is NOT cut way deep as I commonly see. There is a very slight amount of material chipped out of the G string fingerboard side but not enough to affect anything. The saddle is likewise well done and intonation is very close. I will probably opt for horn bridge pins at some time in the future but that’s really just a personal preference. Fret finishing is excellent – hopefully the alloy will stand up to wear. The neck seems straight and solid and the rosewood material there and on the bridge seems to be of good quality. I did take out a fair amount of relief via a couple truss rod adjustments and I have good action with zero fret out or buzz. The truss rod turned easily and smoothly.

The finish poly (or whatever it is) may be a tad on the thick side but it’s not sloppy at all. Nothing beats nitro lacquer but at this price point – I wouldn’t and don’t expect it. I have nothing but good things to say about the pickup system. It’s not overly complex and has a very nice capability of blending – compares favorably to my LR Baggs Ibeam.

The top is nice and I have never had an issue with laminated back and sides. Some will swear up and down that you “need” solid wood all around for quality sound – IMO – they’re WRONG! All you need is a solid top and well fitted bridge.

I’m very happy with my decision to go with the Mahogany vs Rosewood back and sides. I worried about weak bass and bright treble but have found this guitar to be really well balanced tonally. Great fingerpicking and good strumming. It loses it if I go all Richie Havens on it but that is to be expected as it’s not designed for that kind of play.

This is the first non-dreadnought I’ve owned. For comparison I used my ‘98 Taylor710ce Cedar/Rosewood, my ‘81 Yairi DY74 Spruce/Rosewood and ‘75 Ibanez Concord Spruce/Maple. Obviously not an apples to apples thing but enough for me to give this guitar an unqualified thumbs up.

Thanks Rick!
Best Regards,
Jay


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